Today was masters pairs, Grand Prix, Speed Jumping Finals and masters Snooker. Pairs went really well, both my dogs ran clean. Lola's partner had 5 faults but we still Q'ed, Cody's had 10 faults so we didn't Q. I had the easier half of the course for both runs though, that other half was tough.
Cody had a beautiful Grand Prix run though I had a handling bobble and caused a 5 fault refusal. Still we were fast enough to Q so that's Cody qualified for Nationals in Perf. Grand Prix and Perf. Team. Just one more Speed Jumping Q and he's fully qualified. I have no plans to go at the moment and unless they change their policy on fault limits I surely won't go but it's fun to be qualified anyway. Lola missed the up contact on the dogwalk again. It was the same exact setup with the tunnel to dogwalk as it was in Friday's Std. course. I knew it was going to happen and was fairly helpless to stop it. I wish USDAA would give the big dogs a break, maybe a longer contact area. It's ridiculous to have to break her stride so severely. I didn't want to risk demotivating her by putting too much pressure on her so I let it go. Then she missed the down contact, I think she was stressed out by that point. I think she had run by a jump earlier in the run and I'd asked her to come back and fix it, something I try not to do with her in general because she gets stressed for the rest of the run. Then later she ran by a jump again and I let her go so no Q for her. I was hoping she'd get the Q more so than Cody because she still needs one to qualify for Regionals. Oh well, plenty more chances before July.
Lola had a nice clean run in Speed Jumping Finals but she had a couple of wide turns that put us well out of the money. Cody's run was a comedy routine. Somehow I either do really well at Speed Jumping or it's an utter disaster, there doesn't seem to be an in between. The good news about it was that I was super early with a cue and Cody actually listened to me so I pulled him off a jump and sent him off course. I was using the off arm to precue him and pulled him off the jump too soon. If I'm going to use that type of handling I need to practice it more.
Snooker was the best of all and I was particularly pleased with doing well because it was the end of the day and I was tired as I'd gotten up early and come in to work the first class since I knew they were short of workers. It's one of my favorite classes and I was hoping for a Super Q for Cody. Both dogs have all their regular Snooker Q's so there's no point playing it safe. The course was such that you had to go for all 3 sevens. There was plenty of time to do this so it was a matter of doing it fastest though really it was more about efficient lines and tight turns than it was about speed. I watched the masters class and noticed lots of fast dogs turning wide on a serpentine and wasting precious seconds so I did a v-set and got a nice tight turn in that section. I managed to do the 3 sevens with both dogs well under time. Lola ended up in 2nd place for the Super Q and Cody was 3rd but no Super Q but he missed it by a very small margin so I know he can do it. That was Lola's 3rd so she finished up her Snooker title and has all that she needs for her champ title. Now I just need those 3 for Cody. I suppose Lola will be sandbagging from now on though somehow that doesn't feel right. I can't imagine running her with the intention of not doing her best.
Today was Gamblers, Standard and Jumpers. Despite the oversleeping and rushing about I was plenty relaxed by the time I was ready to run. Both dogs ran really nicely in the opening, hitting all contacts, some nice tight turns, others could have been better. I had timed it perfectly for the whistle too but neither dog got the gamble. Not sure why, it looked quite doable and lots of dogs got it but oh well. I’ve not been practicing distance much at all, even when I was practicing. Still, Cody’s such a natural I thought he’d nail it. Oh well, another day, I was so pleased with the opening that I couldn’t feel too bad about it.
I had some problems with Lo’s standard run. Another run by a jump and I let her go off course rather than calling her back. She did a beautiful fast happy down on the table and held it for the count so I left the course to reward her. I made a huge happy deal out of it and she looked pretty pleased with herself so I think it was the right choice. Still I missed the opportunity to see how the rest of the course ran for Cody. Nonetheless, Cody had a beautiful run but missed that darn up contact. Argh! Such a stoopid rule. He must have barely missed it too. Somebody should force the rule makers at USDAA to run a long legged, big strided dog to make them see how difficult and unnatural it is for the big guys to hit that contact. Cody was in perfect control on that dogwalk entry, nothing unsafe about it. Oh well, it was still a lovely run and Cody was so happy at the end of it.
I think all of us were fried by the time Jumpers came along even though it was only noon. Three days was a long time for my guys and for me as well, esp. knowing I had to go back to work tomorrow. Lo had a clean run and a Q but it wasn’t very nice, lots of very wide turns, miscommunication and frustration barking. At one point she was down to a trot for a few steps, presumably because she was so confused about where to go. By far the worst run of the weekend even though it was a Q. Cody’s run was even more disastrous. He had some stress at the startline and broke his stay while I was on the wrong side and behind him so he was off course by the fourth jump. I tried to keep going but he was in unfocused mode and took yet another off course. It was all I could to make it to the exit gate. Not sure if the problems were because we were all tired or because I somehow couldn’t get my head around that particular course. Sometimes we can pull off nice runs even when we’re tired so it’s hard to say.
Overall I had a great weekend. Dogs and I were having fun and running well. Cody didn’t miss a single weave pole entry and didn’t pop out once. Lola missed one or two entries but didn’t pop out either. Both dogs hit all their A-frame contacts and Cody had beautiful down contacts on the dogwalk, stopping for nearly every one and waiting for his verbal release-woo hoo! Never thought I’d see that day. Lo missed only one down on the dogwalk and of course the two ups. Beautiful tables for both dogs both days. I need to work on Lola’s tendency to run past jumps. Joy gave me a great exercise for this, I just need to be able to practice. I had some timing issues with my handling but I felt like I had some improvements too. Lola got hung up in the chute, an ongoing problem. I’m not sure how to fix that, may have to go back to the start with holding the chute open for her. She has a habit of either holding her head too high or raising it before she gets out of the chute. I think I called her while she was in the chute which didn’t help matters but it’s an ongoing problem.
I had Cody at the chiropractor for the first time the day before the trial and the chiropractor said his back esp. toward the rear had great range of motion for a dog his age and there was some tightness but he was able to adjust it. There was also some tightness in the shoulder he had surgery on but he was hopeful that the adjustment would give him a little more range of motion and help him use the muscles he’s supposed to rather than other ones he was using to compensate. It’s possible his 100% success rate with the poles (vs his almost 100% non-success rate with them at Nationals) had to do with the adjustments. However the second day I noticed his rear legs, esp. his left, shaking when he sat. He could barely sit up on his haunches which is part of his warm-up routine. I’m thinking his jumping muscles were tired because he hasn’t been using them. I’ve been keeping him in shape with running, leash walks and some off leash running but perhaps those activities don’t use certain muscles that he needs for jumping. Could also have been something to do with the chiropractic adjustment. Or perhaps it’s the start of some new problem. In any case I’m going to rest him for a few days. If the shaking stops I won’t bother with the vet and I’ll start him on some strength training exercises for those rear legs. Maybe some hill running if the snow ever melts.
Ah, at least I get to sleep in tomorrow even if I do have to go to work.